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Inside Washington

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John Boehner 8, Chicago 7, Washington 6, Obama 5, Us 3, Ohio 2, China 2, Kentucky 2, Cleveland 2, America 2, Richard Daley 2, Terry Jones 2, Harry Reid 2, Ronald Reagan 2, Rahm Emanuel 2, Jesus Christ 1, Southern Ohio 1, Nevada 1, Pennsylvania 1, Energized 1,
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  WETA    Inside Washington    News/Business. Round-table discussions  
   feature nationally recognized journalists. (CC)  

    September 11, 2010
    6:00 - 6:30pm EDT  

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>> when people take a look and what democrats stand for and what republicans stand for, who we are fighting for and who they are fighting for, we will win. >> the campaign in the homestretch. >> president obama is doing a terrible job handling the economy. >> voter reaction on the economy, bad news for democrats. >> also, a surprise announcement from the mayor of chicago. >> i will not seek a seventh
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term as mayor of the city of chicago. >> will the president's chief of staff succeed him? and how did this guy get on page one? >> do you think jesus christ, if he was here, would say, pastor, go burn that holy book. >> absolutely. >> if you looked up the latest polls, you would have to conclude the of love for the democrats in november are grim. republicans have a nine-point advantage. we all know there is a hurricane coming, what we have not determined is whether or not it will be in a category three or
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category five. is there any good news for democrats? >> democrat may consider this good news, the president is becoming engaged, energized, is making in the campaign message for them. but beyond that, no. >> i do not think there is much news for democrats. two months to go. i suppose they could diffuse the storm a bit. i do not think that they will in the end. they have the opposition candidates who may say stupid things, but that does not seem to matter. people are too angry, the economy is too bad. >> by election day, it will be down to a tropical storm. the president will go up and tore the battleground states, wisconsin, ohio, pennsylvania,
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the back, and he will make a real fight for them. as you see the generic polls already, democrats are behind republicans. i think we could see a shift. this is not wishful thinking, this is political prognostication. >> do the republicans ride the wind and get a free ride? >> the biggest limitation on the republican side is how badly the republicans trip themselves up. they are the only ones who will limit how much they get. it is conceivable they will limit themselves either by nominating people who are not acceptable to independent voters, or by having, in some cases, a financial disadvantage. if they play it right, they can run the table. >> the amazing thing is there are candidates who should be
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behind, given the incredible things that they said. in nevada, in the senate race, it is tied. harry reid is behind a point or two. in kentucky, rand paul is ahead. jan brewer had one of the most disastrous television performances. she stops in the middle of a debate and cannot remember what she is talking about. >> the president will be speaking in cleveland. ohio, of course, is john boehner's home state. the president made him a target, mentioning him eight times. >> the republican who thinks he is going to take over as speaker -- [boo] i am just saying, that is his
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opinion. >> i guess every thriller needs a villain. >> it will be tough for the white house to elevate john boehner as the face of the republican party. he is not well known nationally. i think they are targeting him for one reason. they are tried to frame this debate as a class warfare debate. when you look at john boehner with his golf excursions, his tan, he can represent the lays a fair that the white house would like to tack onto the republicans -- plays a fair -- laissez-faire the white house would like to talk on to republicans. it will be tough. john boehner is not a national player. >> the republicans have not even been successful in making nancy pelosi a bill and. i do not think that is the kind of thing that usually works.
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i have to say, obama has suddenly come alive and is talking like a regular person out there. are there fish in the sea? they say no. when i say the sky is blue, they say no. i think people identify with that. >> going after in john boehner as a villian, it is pointless. first of all, most people do not know who he is talking about. you spell his name differently than you pronounced it. people in cleveland think john boehner is somebody from southern ohio. it took one year of newt gingrich's personal and political access as an office before he could become a demon. what this is about, something that kolbe said, registered
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voters. the problem is among interested, enthusiastic voters. what he is trying to do -- the president -- is trying to take disappointed democratic voters and convince them that their race counts. >> the not so dirty little secret is that there are many democrats who are not happy with the presidency there. >> there is not a lot of enthusiasm. that is the reason he is doing his barnstorming this month. he is trying to energize the base and get the people in the democratic party on the sidelines to come into the race. they do have some basic problem with candidates. in the back, you could not get a worse republican nominee, but harry reid is having trouble. the same thing is true in kentucky.
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rand paul ought to be trailing in the polls, but he is certainly competitive. >> the president has two challenges, if he is the one to carry the load -- and it is a big one. riley the base and get the independent voters to focus on the race in the way that he wants to define it. you need two messages to do that. if you talk to democratic strategists who have done polls on the economy, if you look at the message the president is giving, talking about john boehner may inside -- excite the insider democrats, but that is not what moves independent voters. you have to talk about the bush economic policy. >> what do the voters say about the economy? they say its tanks. >> it republican party is standing up against every effort the democratic congress
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and president is making to return us to prosperity. >> democratic chairman tim kaine. two questions that should make you feel queasy, regardless of your affiliation. do you feel that the children's generation will be better than ours? 66%. do you think america is in a state of decline? 65% believe the country is in a state of decline. how do you combat that? >> it is tough to do. america, historically, internationally, has been the home office of national optimism. this has been the most optimistic place on the place of -- face of the earth. if you are optimistic about the future, you can breed confidence. if you are optimistic about the gi bill, water, air pollution acts -- but when the ball lack
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optimism, there is a sense of hunkering down. i cannot be concerned about other people. it makes me more self obsessed. it has a political ripple effect that is of enormous, and i do not think it has been totally calculated. >> the president says we will put money into infrastructure. john boehner said we want to cut taxes and spending. how does that communicate to the american people? >> it does not commit. -- it does not compute. many of the politicians in both parties have sort of lost credibility. it almost does not matter what comes from washington now. they know that they both say anything to get their foot in the door.
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what needs to happen is, we need to see jobs, jobs, jobs come back. >> we have been saying that for weeks. they are not coming. >> short of making people feel more economically secure, there will still be worries about the direction the country is going in. >> but it is not all bad news. there is some good news. >> it is true, the economy -- people want to see the economy come roaring back. it may benefit obama to channel a bit of ronald reagan. while the polls show such pessimism, americans want to be optimistic about their future. they want to know, yes this is tough, but it will be better. talking about $50 billion in infrastructure does not get to the kind of message they want to hear. they heard that with the stimulus and it did not fix anything.
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instead, where is the inspirational obama? ronald reagan in the 1980's brought an uplifting message in the middle of a recession and his party benefited from that kind of inspiration. maybe that is something that obama need to turn to, not to save his own party, but to get americans feeling better about themselves. >> i think it is a lot more difficult now than it was in 1982. as bad as the recession was -- and it was -- reading a bit from david brooks, people have this idea. my father was a plumber, i have a white-collar job, i want my kid to be the next step up. that could be an unrealistic ideal. the non prosperous idea for your kids. maybe you can make more as a
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plumber, but most do not want to be a plumber. we do not make much in this country anymore -- actually, we make a lot -- but not enough. therefore, there is this incredible money is about the future because we see other countries making much more stuff than we are. >> why does a company make things in the united states when they can make it for a fraction in china or elsewhere? >> that is what people are uneasy. >> it is very much germane to what we are talking about. the undergoing fundamental restructuring of our economy. we are not going to be able to produce what it used to be able to, simply because the cost of production. china, they are now seeing competition from bangladesh, who can do it cheaper. their labor costs are almost
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nonexistent. that is what is happening. the job for obama, it seems to me, would be to explain these things to the people and manage the changes that we are going to go through. you cannot suggest that we are going to go back to something. we left a certain part of the country that we will never go back to. >> in fairness, he sees this, talks about the need for education, training scientists, and so forth. >> but he does not talk about -- he has to deliver -- he had to say, is over. >> the president's task right now it is, compared to the situation the nation is in, is comparable to a subway train that is stopped suddenly between two unscheduled stops. the lights go out.
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the american people are the passengers and a voice comes on and says, this is what happened, this is what we are going to do about it, and this is when we are going to get out. the simple fact that more private sector jobs have been created in this year, 2010, this terrible year, more jobs created and in the eight years of george bush's administration is something to think about. >> when congress comes back, they will be having to deal with tax cuts. >> this is a big promise the democrats made to their constituents. they were going to repeal the push tax cuts for the wealthy and bring some fairness into the tax system, use some of that money to pay for the tax breaks for the middle class. but the business community has been talking about how horrible it is to have a tax cut when the economy's recovery is so fragile. tax increases while the economy
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is so fragile. there are a lot of democrats who are unbuckling. we will see if they can deliver. i do not think they can deliver on this promise. >> a former member of the obama administration drew the same conclusion in an op-ed. >> whether we are talking about rahm emanuel or peter orszag, the fact is, the omb director supported these policies and tax cuts. now he writes about it in the new york times, which calls for a temporary extension of the tax cuts to the rich. [inaudible] >> this is something where the president can draw a line. he has veto power.
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he can decide whether he wants to extend the tax cuts for the rich for a year or something like that, or not. the best thing would be to plow it back. those people making less than $200,000. i will veto anything that does not do that. >> george stephanopoulos tried to nail him down, but he said he would not veto it. >> it could pass the house. probably with a tough vote, you could pass the house, saying let's limit the tax cuts to those earning more than $250,000. but the house will not cast a single vote if the senate is not going to act. the only way the senate does something is if the president says, i will need to know, this is the issue, this is the difference between us. he cannot give one interview and then walk away from the interview. he has to make it an issue.
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>> there are some democrats who are backing off of the idea. >> not kind of, they have backed off. they are bringing in all types of companies, meeting with ben nelson, other southern moderates. when you look at it, look at the electorate. you have got a depressed democratic base that once this delivered. the progressive community is almost unanimous saying we have to get rid of these tax breaks for the wealthy. they need to excite those people, but they need the independent voters. they are a bit more when she washy on it. so once again, they are in a tough place, who do you play to? many polls show independent voters agree with repealing the tax cut for the wealthy, but the
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timing of when it is done is important. >> richard daley has been mayor of chicago for as long as many people can remember. now he says it is time to go. >> simply put, it is time. it is time for me, time for chicago to move on. improving chicago has been the ongoing work of my life. i loved every minute of it. >> a question for those of us inside washington, what will rahm emanuel do? the chief of staff made no secret that he would like to be the mayor, despite his current job. can he do it? >> probably, but it will not be a cakewalk. lots of people are going to run. he has not left a lot of friends outside of his in the inner circle at the white house. he has managed to tick off more people, needlessly,
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gratuitously, has heard a lot of people. they will not forget that. >> unions, hispanics, blacks, -- you name it, he has offended them. i do not hear a lot from the white house saying that we can spare him. >> it would not have been a surprise if he left after the first term. chief of staff, particularly in a modern my house, does not last long. it is enormously high pressure. for him to have retired at the end of the first term would not have been a surprise. now with this opportunity, something that he has wanted personally for a long time, i would say he is god and is just serving on the last few weeks. >> let's say you have are -- you are in chicago and you have never known and other major other than richard daley.
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you think about all the politicians, ambitious, young politicians, that have gone from youth to middle age, wanting to run for city hall -- this will be great. 32% of the voters are non- hispanic whites. this is a city that is reflective of the changes in american urban life. >> it is a fabulous city. you have to give credit to richard daley. >> i think if rahm emanuel goes to chicago, there will be an unproven into a god of and in washington. >> i can see you are a big fan. who would replace him as chief of staff? how about tom daschle? >> i have heard that name before. he is a confidant of president obama. i do not know. i would hope he does not pick
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another washington insider. >> what kind of leader, what kind of a person does he need as chief of staff? somebody with a big boot. >> yes, but he needs somebody to communicate with the republicans. rahm emanuel was not that person. he was the architect of the democratic takeover of the house, a great held in the senate. he is not the man to talk to the republicans. the president will need somebody who can cross the aisle. people have a lot more republicans in office the next time. >> the question is whether or not the aisle is crossable. >> i have no idea who it will be, but it needs to be somebody who allows the president to do what he does best. inspired, connect with the american people. quite frankly, he has not done that these two years. he has been too much involved.
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>> you run the ship, i will decide what course we take. >> if he has a washington insider, it will be the same thing for the next two years. >> the debate continues. the koran burning caper now. >> this stunt he is considering could really in danger men and women in uniform. >> it is regrettable a pastor in gainesville, florida, with a charge of more than -- no more than 50 people, can make this an outrageous, distressful, disgraceful plan and get the world attention. >> i guess if your idea is crazy enough, you are almost guaranteed to get on tv. he has been on tv. if he were running the government, what would you do to this guy? >> i would allow the press secretary to make a statement and then let it go. this guy -- terry jones -- would
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have been right at home during the medieval crusaders. he missed his calling by about five centuries. he is an individual who is doing what any number of crackpots could do. the fact that he has gone so much attention says something about us, as a society. >> general petraeus says this could cost lives in the war zone. the secretary of defense called him personally. >> all of that is distressing, but the president would have been pilloried if he did not do something. there were riots already on friday in afghanistan. a number of people hurt. this reminds a bit of those freak shows we saw in the 1920's that got so much attention, but this has the potential to cause more damage. >> the president would have been
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chastised this fellow went ahead with it. in fact, repercussions that we have already seen, evidence of american troops. that is the commander in chief primary responsibility. my suggestion for terry jones -- we should give him his own show on the fox business channel and we will never hear from him again. >> i would have preferred to see a more definitive statement from the white house that recognized who we are as americans, what our freedoms of speech rights are, but clearly condemn it, and then no more talk about it. all of the comments that have come later have only fed the beast. >> what about television? should we ignore this guy? >> funding health we have not talked about. this is an individual, because
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he burns the koran, we are going to have people going after innocent americans overseas? that deserves condemnation from the pakistani, afghan government. this is wrong. >> that is the last word. see you next week.
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gwen: the sum of our fears. the economy. the political landscape and the dilemma of distraction. all of our national insecurities on display. we take a look tonight on "washington week." battles on every side. all on display at a lunchtime presidential news conference. over the economy. >> the policies that the republicans have offer -- are offering right now are the exact policies that got us into this mess. >> i think it just shows how out of touch the white house is. the american people are asking the question, where are the jobs? >> over the coming midterm election. >> what i'm going to remind the american people of is the policies that we have put in place have moved us in the right direction. >> no apologies for opposing the stimulus, no apologies for opposing the health care. no apologies for opposing what they c